And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Salvation. It’s really all about salvation.
He came and died in my place, your place. He took my sin, and yours. He became sin so that we can become the righteousness of God.
Yep, look at this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21
For the criminal on the cross it was a good Friday. He woke up in Paradise, and there was Jesus. BAM!
For us, today is a great day, because of what He did for us on that one day. My prayer this weekend is that many people in many churches will come to Christ. I’m praying for pastors who will preach the simple message of the cross and empty tomb. I’m praying for guests that have been invited. People need Jesus. Two criminals on two crosses. One mocks, the other cries out in faith.
Thank you, Jesus for the cross. And for saving me.
I’m praying for Grace this Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection and welcome guests into our church community. I’m starting a new series this Sunday, check this out.
Many of you remember the impact Zac Smith (my nephew) had on my life and our church family. Zac passed away 4 years ago. This Easter weekend NewSpring Church is retelling his story as Mandy and the kids each give testimony to the glory of God, just as Zac did. Check it out here.
3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus wants us to let others know about Him. Resurrection Sunday, and really every single Sunday, is a great opportunity to invite people to come and see who Jesus is and what He’s done for them. In Sunday’s message, four people had faith and they acted on that faith to do the unusual so a man could be both forgiven and healed. As I understand the passage, the paralytic wanted to see Jesus, probably for the healing. I wonder if the forgiveness was unexpected. Sometimes God asks us to do the unusual so the unexpected can happen. And sometimes He calls us to do it together with others. Personal evangelism is more of a team sport than we think it is. Most of us don’t do a great job with evangelism because we erroneously think it’s all up to us. The church and the work of the church is a team event. None of us are meant to go this alone. Can you imagine just one of the four friends trying to do what the four eventually had to do?
So, who is our team? Well, it’s me, it’s you, it’s our church. I believe it’s a work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As you pray to the Father for your unsaved and unchurched friends, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and to show you the opportunities to invite and to encourage. Join me and simply grab one of the corners of the mat. It’s NOT all up to you. Salvation is God’s work. Jesus accomplished it on the cross, and now the Holy Spirit is convicting. Let’s do this together, with each other, joining our church family and seeing what God will do. When we only do the usual, we get the expected. Let’s ask God for more. Let’s be willing to do the unusual so we can experience the unexpected!
This past Sunday we announced an event coming March 3rd and 10th. This will be a single event that we repeat so you can either come to both or come to one and serve at the other. We are providing childcare for all kids so that everyone can come. Those available to help with childcare for one of the nights will do a great service to our church!
The event will be from 6 – 7:15. We’re working hard to keep it real close to just over an hour.
You know we love the gospel at Grace Community. It is often that I bring the clear gospel message into sermons. In the past I have taught a four week series on evangelism where we covered how to talk to someone about the need for salvation and then how to take the Bible and lead someone to faith in Christ!
That’s not what this event is about.
This is NOT about how to get someone interested, or ready, or get them to understand their need for what Jesus has done for them. This event is about YOU and I knowing what to say when the person is ALREADY READY!
There is a great place for evangelism training and how to answer a lot of questions. We’ve done some of that, and we’ll probably do more in the future.
This is only about how you and I can help a person who is ready.
I want us all to know and be ready with what to say and what verses to go to!
I KNOW you can do this. I think it would be awesome to have a couple hundred people of Grace clearly ready to share the beautiful grace of Jesus when asked!
Yesterday I began my sermon with four things I really like. We had just baptized three individuals with beautiful stories of grace written all over them. So I said, “there are four things I really like: baptisms (whether I’m the one dunking or not), seeing people saved (whether I’m leading or not), preaching, and pie.” Not always in that order!
Before the day was over I experienced all four!
I preached one of those unusual sermons that pastors love to preach. You can read more about it tomorrow. Or you can hear it here and see the notes.
Before the service was over we saw 3 people stand and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord! It was awesome. Our church exploded in applause. As did heaven’s angels.
And because God is awesome and actually created us to laugh and enjoy pie, later that afternoon Laurie and I joined up with one of our fabulous Grace Groups and they offered PIE! There you go. Day complete. I can go home now.
At Grace we’re studying 2 Peter. A couple of weeks ago we saw where Peter instructed us to ‘supplement’ or ‘add to’ our faith. Clearly that’s a sanctifying faith. We’re not saved by doing these things. Rather, these things are a healthy reflection that we are saved and pursuing Christ-likeness.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV)
This past Sunday we considered what Psalm 107 teaches us about giving God thanks. Though it’s good and healthy to list the things we’re thankful for (a usual custom during Thanksgiving week!), it’s even better to give Him thanks because we are redeemed.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble”
(Psalm 107:1-2 ESV)
His steadfast love [lovingkindness, mercy] is why we thank Him. He has redeemed us and called us His own and now we are to SAY SO!
Use this Thanksgiving week to demonstrate your sanctifying salvation by adding to your faith, things such as brotherly love and even a little self-control! Wow, what a list for a family get-together.
However you spend your holiday be sure to give thanks to God for His Son, Jesus, who has redeemed us by giving himself in our place as the final payment for all-time for all sin! We’ve been redeemed, so let’s say so.
I know it’s just an expression. But around here, it means something. Often as I tell someone about the good news of God’s love and grace toward them, I finish by telling them they need to cross the line. You know, like make a decision. Take a stand. Do it.
The gospel is simple, not easy. We are sinners. All of us. God made us, loves us, hates our sin. Jesus was sent to us by His father. God in the flesh. Jesus is all God, as is the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived a sinless life. Died on the cross in my place. Took all my sin upon Himself. He paid the price I would never be able to pay. He did that for me. He came out of the tomb. Risen! Death conquered. He did that for me.
Then in His amazing grace, He brings that message to me. And to you. We have only two responses. Reject it, or accept it. To reject it is pretty stupid actually. It’s to tell God, thanks but no thanks, I got this. Lot of people make that decision. To accept it is to acknowledge the message as true. Jesus is God, He did die for your sins, and He did it all so you could be in a relationship with Him, just like we were created to be. He loves you. Hates your sin. Our sin cost Jesus his life. But, after He shed his blood and died for our sins, He arose and now we can have true life with Him by faith in Him. Believing Him and the message God has now given us. Accept it. Repent of your sin. Confess you’re a sinner before God. That means tell God you get it. You’re a sinner and He’s our only hope, because He died in our place!
That’s it. Pray to God now. Tell him. Acknowledge you’re a sinner before a holy God who loves you and has made a way for you to be reconciled with God. That’s through Jesus. He did it all for you. Now, cross the line of faith.
Want to read about it? Romans 3:10-11, 21-23; 5:1-11; 6:23; John 3:16; 1 John 1:9; 5:13
Some people complain about Mondays. I probably have also. But not this Monday.
Yesterday was the first of the Christmas sermons and 5 people crossed the line of faith to place their trust in Jesus alone for eternal life! AND we also had 3 baptized, 1 who just recently was saved at Grace! It is such a blessing to be a part of God’s activity. Yesterday, I was really going for 2 Cor 5:21 in the sermon, when I came across vs 20 that best summarized the point that we are invited to be participants in the Christmas Story, not merely onlookers.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
God makes his appeal to lost people through us! Let’s not simply observe Christmas, let’s participate. Be an ambassador for Christ!
Flagstaff is under a Blizzard warning right now. Snow is falling big time and schools have already cancelled for Tuesday. NAU/CCC have also called off finals for today. A blessing for some, I’m guessing. Also, we’re closing the church office for the remainder of today, and probably tomorrow also.
As we all enjoy the snow and the adjusted schedule that goes along with it, let’s be careful, and thankful!